Series: Conquering the Past
I was a young adult feeling God’s call into ministry who was also feeling guilty.
God’s call came on top of ten years of running and accumulated guilt-over ignoring the original call, bad decisions, bad relationships and bad habits. While all repented of, their memories tormented me. And Satan stoked the fire: “How could you claim to be a Christian and…?” Guilt can be genuine or false. Real guilt arises when God convicts us of sin with the intent we change courses. False guilt channels through the same path, but the author is Satan and his goal is destruction.
Paul had a string of reasons to feel guilt over his past, but he didn’t. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT).
Paul’s past included consenting with those stoning the first Christian martyr and also dragging Christians off to prison to be persecuted and perhaps killed. When Christ called him as a missionary, he could have absconded because of guilt over his past, but he chose to forget the past because it was forgiven. I did too.
God doesn’t require a spotless past to give us a bright future. Skeletons lurk in everyone’s closet. Some have more and others less, but they hang around nevertheless. The only ones that hinder God using us are those we haven’t turned our backs on. God doesn’t hold my past against me. He uses me in spite of it, and he’ll do the same for you. Don’t let false guilt over past mistakes keep you from God’s intended purposes in the present.
Prayer: Merciful God of forgiveness, thank You that our sins of the past only tarnish our future if we let them.